Category Archives: alchemy

Attitude of Gratitude–Day 38: The Labyrinth

Release, receive, return.

sayville

 

I took a deep breath centered myself and walked into the labyrinth. As I snaked around the first corner, I asked for guidance, for clarity, for peace, for answers. No sooner had I wound the second slithery turn did I begin to unleash the truths within.

Walking in, I experienced an emotional release of energy that has been building up within me for months. I let the tears fall as I released my pent up fear of being secluded and alone, which has been amplified to elephantine heights by my recent move to Long Island. You see, although I am a highly independent being with transience pulsing through my veins, being in a new place prods at a very needy shadow that resides within me. This neediness shows itself when I am most vulnerable, and it turns me into a very irrational being. I bcome full of demands and expectations of those close to me, and these demands are impossible to fulfill by anyone except myself.

***

Early this morning, as I wept to my friend about missing home, missing traveling, missing nature and feeling so uncomfortable in so many aspects of my life, she comforted me and asked me what I was going to do to center myself today. I had no real answer to her question, though I placated her by saying I’d be extra kind to myself. Later, when I arrived at the train station in Oakdale, I drove right past my home and into the town of Sayville. I didn’t want to mope in my apartment so I went for a nice lunch at the health food store. There, a goofy looking kid behind the counter chatted me up. I told him I was new here and looking for community. He asked me if I did yoga. When I replied, “Yes?” he said to me, “You’ve moved to the right town!” Unbeknownst to me, there is an amazing community of spiritual beings in Sayville and I needn’t look much farther than Mainstreet to meet a few souls that could support me. He told me of a few yoga studios and some other nice meditation centers in the area.

As today was an incredibly beautiful day, I decided to walk down the street and happened on a store called Guru’s. In the shop a sweet Indian couple greeted me and let me be as they tended to another customer buying crystals for her son and daughter. I noted this mom, who looked so unassuming in her mom jeans and tee-shirt. I was amused by her regularity. No dreadlocks, nothing hippy-dippy at all. Yet there she was, talking crystals with the owner and her little children. That’s kind of awesome. I want to be that kind of mom!

After the mom and her children left, Navi, the owner, turned his attention to me. He asked me if I wanted my aura read. Sure, why not? I held my palm out as he held a copper spiral on a string above my hands. As the spiral began to spin in small clockwise he told me my first chakra, my root chakra, was in balance. As he hovered the object over my ring finger, it began to swing forward and backward and he noted that my sacral chakra was blocked. “You’re giving and not receiving and it’s draining your energy,” he told me.  My heart chakra, unsurprisingly, made the copper object swing in gigantic circles, denoting my very open and emotional heart. We went through each chakra and he gave me a quick run down of what I needed to do to find balance.

Standing in his store, I began to feel better by the minute. He handed me a bracelet made of carnelian and told me it is the stone of the second chakra. It’s also the stone of gratitude, and that whenever I see it I should offer up a thought of gratitude. I liked this VERY much (obviously)! He also told me it would give me confidence and eloquence to speak my mind, which unbeknownst to him, is something I’ve been working on for the past few days. Sold.

Then he pointed me outside and told me that I should go walk the labyrinth.

Oh, my heart did a little flip of joy when it heard the word labyrinth! I’ve been borderline obsessed with them since returning from El Camino and have even decided that my very first tattoo will be of a labyrinth and a the camino shell. I thanked him, took my new purchase and headed directly for the labyrinth.

***

As I released the fear I began to hear my angels speaking to me. They told me I am never alone. And I must say, what a message to receive there in the labyrinth.

As I rounded the last corner and came to the center of the labyrinth my being came to center as well. I stood there breathing for quite some time, and received the message. I wrapped my arms around myself and gave myself a much deserved hug. I received the love and felt a sense of peace and clarity wash over me.

As I returned out the way I came in, I thought about the fact that I now lived in a community that had a labyrinth in the park and goofy kids that work at the health food store and moms that buy their kids healing crystals and a cute little Indian couples who read auras… And for some strange and disturbing reason, my feelings towards this place might best described by Old Gregg….I think I could like you, Sayville.

old gregg

 

And while I know that this place is still very new and foreign, I don’t actually have to fret too much about finding people whose souls are as old as mine. They are here. I just need to remain open and they will come.

I am never alone, and I am so grateful.

carnelian

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Falling or Flying? Uniting the Yin and Yang of Our Lives.

Sometimes when you fall, you fly. -Neil Gaiman

I was flying when I came home to the United States in mid-October, fresh off El Camino. I felt like I was moon-walking my way through my much anticipated transition home, and that there was absolutely nothing that could bring my feet back down to earth.

My 33 day trek across Northern Spain was like taking an extended yoga class. I had learned the 3 L’s — Living, loving and levitating.

Somebody rain on my parade, I dare you. I’ll just fly up past the clouds and wait for the storm to pass. NBD.

Well, something happened in my second week home that clipped my wings and knocked me to my knees. My present reality: No money. No job. No plans. Student loans payments. A long distance relationship(?!). Loss of independence.

A shit storm of struggles quickly grounded my feet to the earth, and then, laughing, pulled the rug out from underneath me. I found myself on my knees, hands pressed together in prayer.

So many thoughts whirling in my head. How had this happened? How can I get back to that place? How can I be that me again–that amazing, carefree, life-living, bad ass who had just walked across an entire country? Where were the attitudes of love and timelessness that I had just cultivated?

HOW had I let the fear, insecurity and uncertainty back in?

If this is reality, I thought, I prefer the opposite.

And there it was, that important word; the clue to the next piece of my puzzle. The opposing forces that hold us together, the yin and yang that allow us to fly, can ultimately break us down if we can’t find a way to unite and balance them.

Here are four new practices I have undertaken in order to unite the yin and yang and cultivate balance in my life:

1. Softening into discomfort: I have taken countless yoga classes where the teacher would  kick your ass through a series of asanas saying audacious things like, “Breathe into the discomfort” and “Are you clenching your jaw, gripping through your toes? Soften into the pose.” In those moments, I have usually wanted to round house kick the teacher in the head as sweat dripped from my furrowed brow and my arms and knees trembled. Holding chair pose for what feels like an eternity and a half sucksssss.

But the idea of softening into the discomfort is actually a practice that allows us to find our limits and then stretch them. Sometimes this stretch is just a second or two longer than our mind is telling us is currently possible. But over time, we can endure the discomfort for longer periods and build up strength.

If this practice can sculpt our buns and tone our arms, just think of the benefits it can provide to the most important muscle in our whole body–our kick drum heart!

All of the stress I have been experiencing recently had resulted in feelings of tightness and tension in my heart. I could physically feel a contraction in my chest and heart. I had to learn to cultivate awareness. When I start to notice this tension in me, I now take a deep tension releasing breath. Result? An immediate sense of relief. Usually the relief is fleeting, but as I gradually build and hone this practice, I am ultimately strengthening my heart muscle.

2. Shading my shadow: Having glimpsed a sliver of the perfect me, I was reluctant to admit to its opposite. Rather, I had hoped to dig my nails into perfection and hold on for dear life. In retrospect, I should have known that resisting this change was not going to end well…but hey, lesson learned, I’m only human and change is fucking scary.

So I began a quest to liberate myself.. from myself. I started by accepting the opposites and all that lies in between.

I began with the things that I don’t like about myself, and then I looked within to find the opposite. I began to see the contradictions. Oh yes, sooo many contradictions.

For example: I would give the world for someone I love, could also mean that I am capable of being selfish and self-preserving. But in between these extremes, there are 50 shades of grey (wink), and  I can be anywhere on the spectrum and it’s all me. It’s all gravy baby.

Tension relieving sigh….

3. Lightening and grounding:

This technique is awesome. It’s the alchemy of energy. It’s the transmutation of heaviness into lightness. Ultimately, we are capable of moving our heavy energy to places that need to be grounded, thus freeing space for lightness. By focusing on drawing the feelings of heaviness downwards to our feet, we are able to build a base that stabilizes and connects us to the earth allowing us to be light in our hearts.

Image I’ve started transforming my base metals into noble metals, boo yah!

4. Looking at the reflection in the mirror:

We are all mirrors of one another and we reflect our souls into the eyes of other beings.

Anytime you have a  negative judgement of another person, that same negative energy exists within you. Thus, we can practice releasing ourselves from the grips of judgement by committing to taking responsibility for ourselves. Whenever I feel an negative emotion as result of an interaction with someone else, I ask where its coming from within me and then try to peel back the layers and hopefully neutralize the negativity by uniting the two reflections.

Justin Timberlake nailed it:

You were right here all along
It’s like you’re my mirror
My mirror staring back at me
I couldn’t get any bigger
With anyone else beside of me
And now it’s clear as this promise
That we’re making two reflections into one

On this note too, we can also find kindness and love in each other. Start with yourself! Be kind to yourself, and then you can be kind to others. Love yourself, and you can love others. This will ultimately result in people being loving and kind to you. Sweet!

These techniques have helped me to cope with the fall. But in the end, we don’t have to be afraid to fall. Sometimes in those moments of utter confusion, chaos and shit we experience insight, enlightenment and love.

Image

So…

“Hang on to the wind and trust. You are eagle.”

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